Iowa collective bargaining bill passes House, on to Senate

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March 15, 2011


DES MOINES, Iowa: On Friday, March 11, House file 525 passed the Iowa House of Representatives after three days of debate. The bill, unlike Wisconsin's controversial Assembly Bill 11, leaves collective bargaining powers largely intact, dealing primarily with health insurance contributions, management negotiations and arbitration matters.

Power to collectively bargain over wages, hours, vacations, insurance, holidays, leaves of absence, shift differentials, overtime compensation, supplemental pay, seniority, transfer procedures, job classifications, health and safety matters, evaluation procedures, and in-service training remain intact under House file 525.[1] Despite the many powers still granted to the unions under the bill, Democratic House leader Kevin McCarthy still believes it to be "worse than the bill approved in Wisconsin."[2]

Regarding health care, the bill would require monthly contributions of $100 to health care coverage for individuals with collective bargaining rights. Republicans added this to the bill due to an estimated 84% of Iowa public employees who pay nothing towards their coverage. "The state can no longer afford and the taxpayers can no longer support health care insurance which does not require the employee to at least contribute something to their own health care coverage," said Republican Rep. Ron Jorgensen.[3]

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats argued that forcing public employees to contribute to their health insurance is an act of discrimination. Rep. Mary Mascher (D) took it a step further, stating that unions and their members should be added to Iowa's list of minority groups protected by civil rights laws.[4]

The other reform measure aimed at saving taxpayer dollars in House file 525 deals with arbitration. Currently, arbitrators are forced to choose either management's offer or the union's offer in contract negotiations. Under the bill, arbitrators would have the freedom to compromise when finding solutions for the two parties.[3]

House file 525 passed the House 58-38.

Iowa House Partisan Composition

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 43
     Republican Party 57
Total 100

The bill will move on to the Senate, however, it is expected to die there due to the slight Democratic majority.

Iowa Senate Partisan Composition

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 26
     Republican Party 24
Total 50


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